Can Accounting and Bookkeeping Firms Enforce their Employees to Get the Vaccination
With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, accounting firms and other businesses all across the world are watching and analyzing the situation, determining how they can encourage their staff to get vaccinated.
Many firms around the globe are providing informational resources as well as offering financial and other support to their employees in order to encourage them to get vaccinated in this fight against this pandemic that started more than a year ago.
However, the availability of vaccines have also raised some questions in the mind of both employers and employees regarding whether the available vaccines will be effective in the reducing the number of COVID-19 patients and whether the employees that don’t get vaccinated exposes others at their workplace to the threat of being infected with COVID-19.
In general, many employers have the power to mandate their employees to get vaccinated, but most companies are adopting the approach of encouraging instead of enforcing, unless they are working in industries such as food services or health care, where workers directly come in contact with COVID-19 positive patients. Most of the staff of accounting firms are already working from home, making accounting and bookkeeping firms less likely to enforce their employees in getting vaccinated.
However, there are exemptions to mandates which provide many employers with the power to enforce their employees to get the vaccination, even if they are in place at all. For example, if employees have religious beliefs against getting vaccinated or medical conditions that prevent them from getting safely vaccinated. Business owners that force all their employees to get the vaccination even those that meet the criteria to get the exemption, as a condition of employment, could found themselves in big trouble and be handed with severe consequences by the relevant authorities in their respective regions.
Further, some people just don’t want to get the vaccination, making business entities nervous about enforcing the said issue with their employees. Many employers have decided to not force the issue with their employees as they expect a pushback from those employees that either refuse to get the vaccination injected or oppose the vaccines in general as well as the potential impact a mandate may have on an entity’s culture and staff morale.
Businesses around the world should follow the mentioned below tips and advices with regards to handling the vaccine roll out while also avoiding the possible legal and staff-related complications:
1) Establish Plan and Implement it Across the Board
Businesses should be consistent in their directives in connection to the vaccine and establish and issue formal guidelines that everyone should follow. A policy cannot be justified if it is not implemented across the entire organization. In addition, there is a risk of an organization’s directive being changed or misconstrued if it verbally communicated rather than in the form of a written policy.
2) Offer Alternatives
Businesses should provide their staff with an alternative to getting vaccinated such as continuing with the policy of working from home. It is important for businesses to provide their employees with different options and carefully analyze the situation as it folds and act accordingly.
3) Provide Awareness and be Flexible
Businesses should provide information and awareness to employees regarding COVID-19, vaccines and their rollout so that to enable them to make informed decisions either about getting or avoiding the vaccine. Business owners should make all the efforts to help their staff to understand the process designed for obtaining the vaccine if they are interested in getting injected with the vaccine doses.
Employers should plan regarding giving allowances for employees that are required to get the vaccination during office timings, and possibly offer some more time-off if they have a reaction, especially after getting the second dose of the vaccine.
4) Employers Should Lead the Way
If an entity is pushing their staff members to get the COVID-19 vaccination, then employer of that entity together with its senior management should lead the way and get vaccinated first. If you are going to encourage someone to get the vaccine then you need to get injected with it yourself as well.
5) Consult legal Advisors
If your firm plans on enforcing all their staff to get the vaccine then in such a scenario it is important to take legal help from an attorney who has expert knowledge about the employment law as well as other laws that are applicable in the region where your organization is located. It is important to mention that there is a huge possibility that employees could file a legal suit against their employers if they are suspended or even fired for not getting injected with the vaccine.
Some businesses are offering financial and other incentives to their employees for getting vaccinated. These incentives include cash payments, gift cards, or an extra hour of pay for providing evidence of getting injected with the vaccine.
Business owners that are planning on offering such incentives should first consult an attorney or a legal advisor first. There might be a number of legal issues around the idea of offering incentives, such as mentioned above, about which an attorney or a legal advisor has complete knowledge.
6) Maintain a Safe Workplace
As the rollout of vaccines is taking place slowly and steadily, it is important to continue with the existing protection protocols such as social distancing, face masks, symptom screenings and travel restrictions. Especially, during the transition period in which some employees are vaccinated while others are not. Firms should be careful in implementing these policies to ensure the safety of their workplace.